Well, I certainly had been wondering where they were going to go with the “the gang gets kicked out of school” semi-cliffhanger from last week. Turns out, they’re running with it. Last week’s episode was clearly the setup for a multi-episode arc that’s going to bring us through to the season finale. (And psst, as we just heard today, Community’s coming back next season! Maybe for a short-ish run, but still.)
We pick up two months after the end of the last episode, which actually works out well with the timeline of the show’s universe, since they tend to follow closely “real world time,” and the show went on a two-month hiatus. Everyone’s dealing with expulsion in their own way, whether with excessive drinking, creative casseroles, or outside-the-dreamatorium extended role playing. Apparently, no one is dealing with the situation by, I don’t know, getting a job.
Can I just say that the cop who brought Abed home was amazing? It’s nice to know that the same guy who would take a bullet for Abed in a comic-convention context (com-con con?) is also a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow. I just loved how a scene that existed mostly to move the plot forward could end up being so solid.
After all, the cop is there to bring Abed home but also to tell his friends that the Dean (or was he?) agreed not to press charges against Abed for snooping around the Greendale campus if he agrees to get psychiatric help. Since this is Commnunity, the whole group comes along to his first session, and it turns out his doctor is the PC Guy. Hi, PC Guy!
The middle of the episode reminded me just a little bit of the Seinfeld finale, wherein the behavior of the main characters, which we take as amusing within the show’s universe, reads as unstable, strange, or downright horrifying to a “normal” person. The gang goes back and forth with The PC Guy over who has mental problems: is it everyone? Is it Abed? Is it everyone but Abed?
Many of the cutaways were great, particularly Abed sternly telling Shirley that she’s a bad person for liking a Brett Ratner movie. But after last season’s fake flashbacks episode (“Paradigms of Human Memory”), seeing new old moments with the gang didn’t have the same giddy thrill. Particularly when the main plot had a lot of ground to cover, the cutaways sometimes felt like filler.
All their stories about the Greendale days make Jeff put the pieces together (three cheers for character consistency!); he realizes that the Dean loved the group so much he would never have had them expelled. Could Abed have actually been right about there being an imposter Dean?
The PC Guy then drops the psychological-thriller archetypal bomb: Greendale isn’t a school at all, but an asylum where the seven have been committed for the past three years! This is really where the episode got back on its feet. The meta-jokes about how long community college is supposed to take, and the degree to which everything revolves around the study group, were pitch-perfect, as was the montage of the group acting out moments from old episodes. (Side note: am I the only one who’d completely forgotten about the trampoline episode? It really didn’t click for me until my second viewing.)
Once again, Jeff is the one who snaps the group out of their stupor as they prepare to leave the doctor’s office. “Wait a minute. None of this makes any sense!” I mean, if we can’t trust The PC Guy, whom can we trust? Chang is behind it all, of course. I can’t wait to see him get his comeuppance next week. And I think all this excitement is really helping me get past my grief over Starburns. We miss you, Alex!